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HJC Furion aero helmet review

28 Jun 2018
Verdict:

HJC Furion felt strange enough that I tried a different size & different model at first; but on the bike it proved to be a pretty good lid

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£149.99
For 
• Good if you give it a chance • Unaware of it for 140km in warm conditions • Good airflow
Against 
• Unique fit might put people off before it's worn on a ride, added to by generally small sizing • Does not stand out against more established brands and products

The HJC Furion has been a lesson in learning from cliches, the initial one coming as soon as I placed it on my head, in the shape of a cycling variation on 'don't judge a book by its cover'. Slightly odd looking and with an unfamiliar fit when first placed on my head, it would have been easy to put this helmet down and not give it a proper ride test.

That initial impression was of a fit that felt strange, bordering on uncomfortable, and I was unsure I'd be able to wear it all day on a sportive, particuarly in warm conditions.

The front of the helmet felt like it was pushing on my forehead and the aero-design made me wonder if getting too hot could be a problem.

Stood with the helmet on at a product presentation hosted in Ridley's new 'Belgian Cycling Factory' I was left questioning my decision to save on baggage by leaving my Specialized S-Works Prevail II at home, arguably an unnecessary move anyway as I was travelling by Eurostar to avoid the ordeal of airports and flying.

It was just as well I did opt to leave my familiar lid at home as the HJC Furion aero helmet would have been cast aside for the day while I rode the medium distance of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege sportive in temperatures pushing 30C, and instead I found myself pleasantly surprised by its performance.

The fit

As mentioned above, when first placed on my head, I was instantly conscious of how different the fit felt to other helmets I've been using lately. This one felt a lot like it had been moulded around a perfectly spherical football rather than an actual human head.

Slightly wide of my skull at the sides but so very close on my forehead, this was the start of my scepticism about wearing the lid for more than about five minutes.

Winding in the closure system was hardly necessary but did make the fit feel more even around the entire circumference, an improvement.

I'd been issued with a size medium-large but also stuck on a large-extra large to see how that felt. The fit was the same but exaggerated: larger gaps at the sides. Back to the original and I was wondering how I'd fare wearing it for a full day.

Liege - [not quite] Bastogne - Liege

Entered for the medium distance event, which doesn't make it all the way to Bastogne, the assembled group - a number of us wearing the HJC Furion aero helmet - set off in unseasonably nice weather, with temperatures on the rise.

The greatest praise I can give this helmet is that at no point during the ride was I conscious of its presence on my head.

The heat played its part in the day, ensuring we stopped at every feed station to top up bottles, and the climbs of the region had us all sweating over the peaks.

However, what didn't noticeably add to the heat was the helmet. I'd still opt for a more vented lid for a summer's day in the high mountains but the HJC Furion was perfectly fine for a ride under the unfamiliar sun of the Ardennes.

The initially strange feel to the shape of the helmet was soon forgotten about too.

Back home and the weather went back to late-winter rather than early-summer. Wearing a GripGrab Aviator winter cap for any ride under 10C meant that the Furion's fit ruled it out of use until temperatures rose into the teens.

The brand

As a company, HJC was founded in Korea in 1971 and is now the market leader with around 25% world wide market share in motorcycle helmets.

With that market on the wane, three to four years ago the brand decided to diversify with a move into sports equipment. For a Korean company, in mind of the then upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the initial plan had been to produce ski and snowboard helmets, but market research led the number crunchers to cycling.

European brand manager Pingo Magduschewski was brought on board to begin cracking that all important region.

'It was a logical decision to go into sport,' Magduschewski explained.

'They didn't have bicycles in mind at all at first, but one of the employees said that it was more reasonable to start with bicycling because it's a bigger market which we can supply.'

Seen in the WorldTour

It's thanks to Magduschewski that Lotto-Soudal are now wearing the HJC helmets. Previously seen under Lazer lids, that company was bought by Shimano which raised questions for the Campagnolo-committed Lotto-Soudal.

Aware of this, Magduschewski got in touch with Ridley - Lotto's bike supplier - and the relationship went from there. The pro with whom the helmet maker has had the most contact is the team's sprint lead Andre Greipel.

Interested in the design and manufacture of the products, Greipel received his helmets before the rest of the team, keen to get started and to give his feedback.

It'll be interesting to see which helmet the Lotto-Soudal riders use in each stage of the upcoming Tour de France.

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